Yesterday evening, Greg Sargent reported on The Plum Line that one of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's key reasons for resigning -- that ethics complaints against her were draining the state of money -- appeared to be false.
In response to our questions, the Governor's office provided us with a detailed breakdown of the millions Palin has claimed has gone to defending against ethics complaints. It does list roughly $1.9 million in expenditures.
But Murrow, the spokesperson, acknowledged to our reporter, Amanda Erickson, that this total was arrived at by adding up attorney hours spent on fending off complaints -- based on the fixed salaries of lawyers in the governor's office and the Department of Law. The money would have gone to the lawyers no matter what they were doing. The complaints are "just distracting them from other duties," Murrow said.
In other words, while these lawyers might have been free to do other legal work for the state, the ethics complaints have apparently not had the real world impact Palin has claimed, and didn't drain money away from cops, teachers, roads and other things.
The Anchorage Daily News did a thorough analysis and backed up the spokesperson. The ethics complaints took up time that staff could have spent doing other work, but they did not cost Alaska any money.
"Is it a check that we wrote, no, but is it staff hours, yes," Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Palin, said of the expenses related to state employee work.
Those state employees would have been paid regardless.
A large chunk of that work went into the state personnel board's "Troopergate" investigation, which Palin herself initiated on the grounds that a legislative probe was politicized. Only three of the ethics complaints are still pending, a fact that makes Palin's explanation seem even less sensible.